April 11, 2018, 11:47 pm
It’s over! The Wolves have finally done it! 14 years of agony and anguish, but also a little patience, has finally resulted in the elusive playoff appearance for a franchise that was down in the dumps for years.
The wait has been 14 years, but this process has been four years in the making. It started when the Wolves decided to reset the rebuild around Kevin Love and pivot to a rebuild around a younger core.
Andrew Wiggins was the first piece to the puzzle, acquired in the Love trade. Wiggins may not have developed as fast as some have liked, but he’s been a valuable contributor to this playoff squad.
Tonight Wiggins scored 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers, but most of all he made the two biggest free throws of his young career. In a two-point game in overtime, Wiggins was fouled and had a chance to put the Wolves up four points with 11 second. A 64 percent shooter on the season, he calmly sank both.
His defensive intensity was off the charts as well. He was fully engaged all night and held Wilson Chandler scoreless in 48 minutes. Fans have been waiting for this version of Wiggins to consistently arrive, and tonight he was everything they could ask for.
The next piece to the puzzle was drafting Karl-Anthony Towns with the first overall pick. KAT has obviously been on monster in his three-year career and was able to feast on the Nuggets all night long. He finished with 26 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and one steal on 12-of-19 shooting.
KAT is feasting! pic.twitter.com/lA7pUO5pJT
— Hoop Ball Wolves (@HoopBallWolves) April 12, 2018
Towns is one of the best big men in the NBA and is just 22 years old. He’s the face of the franchise and has a chance to become not just an all-time great in Wolves’ history, but in the entire NBA.
His averages of 21.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 blocks, 0.8 steals and 1.5 3-pointers on 54.5 percent shooting, 85.8 free throw shooting and 42.1 3-point shooting is matched by few other big men, but his 82 games played is what sets him apart. KAT isn’t only a special talent, he’s as dependable as they come.
Building around two No. 1 overall picks is a great starting point for any franchise, but the Wolves weren’t satisfied. They had a number of other complimentary pieces, but desired to add one more major player in an era of “Big Three’s” and “Super Teams,” so they went out and got the final piece to the puzzle, Jimmy Butler.
Butler was able to transform this team from a 31 win team into a 47 win team, and a playoff squad. The Wolves had the biggest jump in the win column in the tough Western Conference thanks to him. Butler’s intensity and every day mentality didn’t grow on the Wolves right away, but when it mattered most the young Wolves who remained were ready.
The Wolves went out and got Butler for games just like this one, and he delivered with 31 points, five assists, five rebounds, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer on 10-of-21 shooting and 10-of-13 at the line.
After missing 17 games down the stretch, Butler returned just three games ago. He had been limited to 23 minutes in the first two games, but tonight he played 42. The Wolves went 3-0 in his return.
While Butler as the final piece to the puzzle, his addition attracted other veteran additions, namely Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson. Both vets stepped up huge tonight. Teague shows up more in the box score, but Gibson had perhaps the most important defensive effort of the season.
Coming off an injury in the last game that limited him to eighth minutes, Gibson was playing at less than 100 percent, but refused to slow down. Like Butler, Taj was brought in to do the dirty work and he was able to deliver there.
The game was tightly contested throughout, but the Wolves did hold a lead most of the way. In fact late in the fourth Minnesota build an eight-point lead and things were looking bleak for Denver. After a timeout the Nuggets came out on an 8-0 run to tie the game.
After trading baskets, the Wolves and Butler had a chance to win the game. His shot bounced off and the Nuggets controlled the ball with four seconds left. That’s where Taj came in with the most important steal of the season.
— Kevin Brand (@KBranded) April 12, 2018
The game then went to overtime where the Wolves were able to handle their business, thanks to Wiggins’ free throws, and clinch their elusive playoff berth.
Wolves break NBA's longest postseason absence and holy crap is it about damn time pic.twitter.com/QSLQF3Tv9Q
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 12, 2018
The rebuild is finally complete. The first goal has been met. That doesn’t mean there isn’t more growth to come. This was step one in the process, now the Wolves have to make sure this becomes a regular occurrence.
Their matchup won’t be easy. With the Pelicans and Thunder winning, the Wolves are seeded eighth in the Western Conference and will face the top seed Houston Rockets.
Houston is 4-0 versus the Wolves this season, but each game Minnesota was able to get more and more competitive. The playoffs begin this weekend.
April 23, 2019, 12:03 pmTyronn Lue - Team - Cleveland Cavaliers
The Lakers have scheduled a second meeting with Tyronn Lue for Wednesday.
The Lakers are closing in on their search for a new head coach, and it seems that the two likeliest choices are Lue and Monty Williams. With the Suns also expressing interest in Williams for their head coach vacancy, the Lakers have some incentive to move quickly with their decision.
Source: LA Times
April 23, 2019, 11:46 amAndrew Bogut - C - Golden State Warriors
Andrew Bogut plans on returning to the Sydney Kings of the NBL for the 2019-20 season, regardless of what happens the rest of the way during the NBA playoffs.
Bogut agreed to a two-year pact with the Kings last April and he intends to honor that agreement and return to his native Australia, even though other NBA teams may be interested in his services. “The be all and end all is that I gave my word to the Kings,” Bogut said, via the NBL. “Someone outside of the Warriors could offer me a deal that would be pretty lucrative and a decent one-year deal. But I’m sold and locked in on coming to the Sydney Kings again to try and better what we did last season.” Bogut’s time in Australia has made wonders as he lost the extra weight and looks to be in tremendous shape for his age while averaging 4.7 points, 8.0 boards, 2.7 dimes and 1.0 blocked shots in 14.7 minutes against the Clippers. The Warriors will continue to rely on him and Kevon Looney with DeMarcus Cousins expected to remain sidelined throughout the playoffs.
April 23, 2019, 11:16 amJuwan Howard - Team - Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs have scheduled meetings this week with Mavs assistant coach Jamahl Mosley and the Heat’s Juwan Howard, a person familiar with the team’s plans told the Associated Press on Monday.
Mosley has some connections with the Cavs, spending four seasons as an assistant with the club before joining the Mavs in 2014. He just completed his fifth season with Dallas, who promoted him to the position of defensive coordinator before last season. Mosley has risen through the coaching ranks and has extensive background in player development, an essential for the Cavs, who have a young roster. After a 19-year NBA playing career, Howard joined Erik Spoelstra’s Heat staff in 2013. He has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Lakers’ vacancy while he interviewed for the Pistons’ opening last year. General manager Koby Altman has not put any timeline on a search that he promised would be expansive. The Cavs intend to speak with many assistants currently in the postseason, with the Nuggets’ Jordi Fernandez, the Jazz’s Alex Jensen and the Blazers’ David Vanterpool among the coaches expected to be contacted by Cleveland in the next few weeks.
Source: Akron-Beacon Journal
April 23, 2019, 11:00 amChauncey Billups - Team - Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves are set to begin the next process in their search for a new President of Basketball Operations this week, as interviews will begin with four candidates.
The Wolves will be speaking with Chauncey Billups, Nuggets assistant General Manager Calvin Booth, Rockets Vice President Gersson Rosas and Nets assistant General Manager Trajan Langdon. Owner Glen Taylor will be involved in the process and will have the final say over who is hired. The Wolves did identify a fifth candidate in the process, Clippers GM Michael Winger, but he will be staying in Los Angeles.
Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune
April 23, 2019, 10:47 amLloyd Pierce - Team - Atlanta Hawks
Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce was named to the USA Basketball Men’s National Team coaching staff on Monday.
In his first season as an NBA head coach, Pierce led the Hawks to a five-win improvement over 2017-18, working closely with rookies Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman. He joins Gregg Popovich’s staff that also includes Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and Villanova head coach Jay Wright as assistants. The staff will lead the USA National Team in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China this summer.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
April 23, 2019, 10:32 amKevon Looney - F - Golden State Warriors
Kevon Looney hopes that he will be able to play for the Warriors next season when they enter into Chase Center, their brand new area.
Looney set career highs in games played (80), minutes (18.5 per game), points (6.3 points per game) and rebounds (5.2 per game), among other categories, during the 2018-19 regular season. He has averaged 11.7 points in the Warriors' three playoff games thus far and Steve Kerr made it clear on Friday that he was glad Looney did not leave upon becoming a free agent last summer. The valuable backup becomes an unrestricted free agent in July, the second consecutive summer he will hit the market. This time however, the Warriors have Bird rights on Looney, giving them considerable financial flexibility to pursue a new contract.
Source: NBC Sports
April 23, 2019, 10:06 amDevin Booker - G - Phoenix Suns
Shams Charania of the Athletic is reporting that the first two coaches the Suns will request permission to interview for their head coach opening are Monty Williams and David Vanterpool.
The Suns seem to have their eyes set to Williams as both Suns GM James Jones and VP of basketball operations Jeff Bower have worked with him in the past. Vanterpool is a former NBA journeyman who has been an assistant coach with the Blazers since 2012.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
April 23, 2019, 9:57 amClint Capela - C - Houston Rockets
Clint Capela, who had his worst performance of the season in the Rockets' Game 4 loss to the Jazz on Monday, told ESPN that he has been battling two respiratory illnesses during the series.
Capela, who missed a practice due to the illness days before the series started, said that he was diagnosed with adenovirus and a klebsiella infection during a Sunday visit to a Salt Lake City doctor. The big man was prescribed medication and eye drops while he was also told it would be another four or five days before he would be fully recovered. Capela had a season-worst scoring total on Monday while the Rockets were outscored by 20 points with him on the floor. The series moves to Houston now with Game 5 set to take place on Wednesday and with a quick turnaround it will be interesting to see whether Capela can return to his usual form.
April 23, 2019, 9:41 amJrue Holiday - G - New Orleans Pelicans
Sean Deveney of the Sporting News is reporting that the Suns are considered the favorite to go after Jrue Holiday, should he become available by the Pelicans.
The Magic and the Bulls could also have interest but everything will depend on what new Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin decides to do in the next few weeks. If Griffin is intent on keeping Holiday, it is a signal that he will look to bring a quick turnaround for the Pelicans rather than enter a long, slogging rebuild. And if he entertains offers for him, it is certain that plenty of teams will try and trade for the 28-year-old guard, especially after a sensational year where he finished in the top-25 in 8-cat and 9-cat leagues.
Source: Sporting News
April 23, 2019, 8:49 amTyreke Evans - G - Indiana Pacers
Veteran swingman Tyreke Evans said that he will consider re-signing with the Pacers in free agency this summer, despite the fact that the season didn’t meet his expectations.
“The playing situation was just a little different,” Evans said. “Not how I expected it to be. I feel like I was forcing a lot when I came in.” Evans will turn 30 in September and he was hampered by knee pain throughout the season, averaging 10.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 68 games. He increased those averages to 15.3 points and 4.5 rebounds during the Pacers’ first-round loss to the Celtics. Overall, it was a bad fantasy year for Evans as he failed to crack the top-250 and a change of scenery might help him resurrect his career.
Source: Indy Star